Last year we did a post about how West Virginia University not only has some of the longest treks of any school in the country because of its far off affiliations with the largely Midwest and Southwest schools of the Big 12, but it also goes to global lengths at least once a year to build community and celebrate the Mountaineers on “Mountaineer Nation Day.” Today, with WVU taking on Oklahoma, is that day, and once again the event has expanded and is worth noting for its use of social to connect around the world, and more importantly to pull together groups who have a common bond to their school in such far off places.
“Mountaineer Nation Day,” is when fans are encouraged to show their pride and passion for WVU through an amazing 721 watch parties (more than double from last year) in 14 countries and all 50 states, including Mountaineer bashes in 14 countries this year including, Aruba , Australia , Belgium, Canada, Chile, Germany, Malaysia, Mozambique, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Spain, and the UK. With its global alumni base of 190,000+, the school has relied heavily on satellite events to encourage the wearing of blue and gold during one away football game each season as a sort of homecoming away from home. Working with their partners at IMG College and Collegiate Licensing, WVU carefully targeted and used every social platform available to build awareness and then affinity of the game with all the trappings included.
The social element this year included the creation of numerous videos to share and post for the game against the Sooners. The short videos featured fans, students, The Pride of West Virginia Marching Band, and The Mountaineer mascot.
On game day, the site becomes a real time rallying point, with fans submitting photos to show their pride from around the world, with WVU targeting key groups who showed the most affinity to give away prizes like officially licensed jewelry, custom Mountaineer apparel, Mountaineer toys, and Mountaineer dog items.
Here was a great example of how the day is being played out in of all places, Mozambique per Hayley Harman, a Senior at WVU…
I was actually born and raised in Morgantown, WV. With 20+ years in town, I’ve become accustomed to tailgating before WVU games with family and friends at my grandparents’ house across from the stadium on Maple Drive. During away games, we would still gather around the big screen to cheer on the Mountaineers. It’s something that I have definitely missed this fall while studying abroad in Maputo, Mozambique!
As a senior at West Virginia University, I am studying Biology, Psychology, and Spanish. However, I am currently in Maputo, Mozambique studying the Portuguese language as well as African History, Politics, and Culture as a 2015 Boren Scholar. Boren Scholarships are awarded to graduate and undergraduate students in the United States to study critical languages abroad in countries less-frequently visited by American students. I wanted to study here to learn Portuguese as well as get a closer look at HIV/AIDS treatment and education outside of the United States. I hope to eventually be a physician and work with medically-underserved populations around the world. To me, being able to provide the best possible care to patients seems contingent on doctor/patient communication and understanding, so I am working very hard to learn Portuguese while also trying to take time to familiarize myself with the healthcare system in Mozambique. It has been a very enjoyable experience thus far and I am really learning a lot!
I am planning to stream the game from my laptop in my Mozambican host family’s home in Maputo.
There is another WVU student studying in Maputo as a Boren Scholar as well, and together we have invited other students from our program as well as our Mozambican families and friends.
Our host families and Mozambican friends have had very little exposure to American football, so this will hopefully be something they will enjoy!
I have had fun teaching them about American football and its significance to me as a college student, and they have shared a lot with me about their favorite futbol (soccer) teams and players here.
We’ll of course be eating great food! Before arriving, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect with the food in Mozambique, but I have been blown away by everything I have eaten so far. There is a bean dish, called feijoada, that I love in particular. It starts as a huge pot of beans, but as it cooks is flavored with garlic, onions, and beef until it is creamy and smooth. Served over rice it would make the perfect late-fall tailgate meal for a game in Morgantown, and I am really excited to share the recipe with my family and friends when I get home. We also eat a lot of chicken here, most times grilled over charcoal and served with homemade french fries, which are a very popular here! I think these dishes will be our main offerings during Saturday’s game.
While many schools do viewing parties on a regular basis, the fact that WVU was able to link their global network together and use the social space to have all those fans interact before, during and after the game was a great next step in fan engagement, and in many ways made the distance between Morgantown and those other Big 12 schools just a little bit closer, at least in the virtual space. It set a great example of how well schools can use remote locations to create a bigger community, because of the affinity people have with social media today.